Should You Install Energy Efficient Windows In A Historic Home?

Homeowners with historic homes are often caught riding a fine line between innovation and integrity when it comes to replacing any component in or on the dwelling. Any decision related to the repair or replacement of each part of the house, regardless of size or detail, must be carefully considered so as to comply with certain historic society mandates that regulate such things.

Simply put, when you own a house of any historic value, your decisions are not always your own because these structures must be preserved according to the policies of the legislation that governs the restoration of old or historic properties.

The most common home renovation projects on these types of houses is typically the repair or replacement of the windows. That’s because some of these homes are nearly a hundred years old and windows were not built using the same practices and technological advancements of today. Unfortunately, that can often result in having a window that fails to perform in the same manner as windows in modern homes, which can lead to drafts coming in, precipitation leaks and water damage, and a lack of energy efficiency.

The latter can cost you hundreds more than necessary due to increased energy expenses. When your windows aren’t energy efficient your costly climate-controlled air is escaping from the home. So you need to run your air conditioning or your heating longer just to maintain a comfortable temperature in the room or rooms you’re using.

Why spend more than you have to just to cool or heat a house with windows that are allowing it all to escape? The older a home gets, the more deteriorated the windows can become and that’s when you need to give them a long, hard look to decide if they can be repaired or if you need to install more energy efficient models instead.

Assess the Situation

Most homeowners of historic properties are concerned that putting in new windows will mar the original aesthetic of the home’s exterior. They won’t just alter the look of the building but they may significantly lower any potential resale value on the home.

So before you make any major decisions, see if you can make some repairs to the original windows and that way you won’t have to worry about replacement costs and the myriad of historic society requirements that have been put in place to regulate the repair or replacement of windows in old homes.

If there is damage, how extensive is it? Do the windows operate properly, meaning can you open and close them completely? Many energy efficiency issues stem from windows that just don’t shut all the way anymore, leaving a small gap through which air can pass. If there are specific hardware elements broken or missing, how much of a challenge will it be to locate those exact parts again, considering these windows could be decades old?

In many instances, simply applying some weatherstripping to the affected windows could have a major impact on improving their energy efficiency and this is not only the less expensive route to take but it keeps your original windows intact with the home. But if there are cracked panes or rotted areas that need to be addressed, you could be looking at a larger project ahead.

Remain in Compliance

As we mentioned earlier, homeowners with historic homes are bound by certain local laws and statutes that map out what is permitted and what is prohibited when mounting any sort of home improvement project on a significantly older home. In order to maintain the historic value of the dwelling, your new windows will need to be historically accurate along a variety of criteria.

Depending on the laws in your city or state, that could govern which type of materials are allowed and the pane patterns of the windows themselves. A majority of historic society rules clearly state that no materials may be used on the house if they weren’t available at the time of the home’s construction. So you could be searching high and low for replacement windows that don’t contain any plastics or composite elements. Not always an easy task.

One more thing to consider, new replacement windows have a shorter life expectancy than your original windows. Think about it, the current models have been in the home for nearly a century perhaps, while newer windows are only expected to last for about 30-40 years.

So if possible, repair, but if your wallet is getting squeezed too tighly from month to month, it may be time to replace. To find out more, click here: